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So you think we are finished? | Silvia Dominguez
SALAMANCA (Spain) - It didn't go unnoticed recently that the FIBA experts did not pick us, Spain, to win the FIBA Women's EuroBasket this summer, which we are going to co-host with France.
We don't care. We're going to use this as motivation.
When it comes to winning experience, we have more than other teams in Europe dating back to 2013, when we won our first EuroBasket in France. After coming in third in 2015, we won again in 2017 and more recently in 2019.
During that time we also reached the Finals of the 2014 FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup, and the Rio Olympics.
How long can Spain continue to be at the top, or among the leading countries, especially when you see great players like Marta Xargay and Anna Cruz recently announce their retirement from the national team? We've actually been asking ourselves that question for a while. We know it'll finish at some point, but years and years keep passing by and we're still there, at the top.
Our mental strength has helped us. We have gone into other championships admiring the rosters of other teams like France yet we've got something in our veins and it's called competition.
I don't know what teams think when they have to face Spain although I'm sure they don't like it because we're not an easy opponent. Mentally, we know if we push a team hard for 40 minutes, their level may go down.
That was Amaya Valdemoro's attitude. She fought for the team many times, turning in high performances, and maybe she was the one that brought the national team this identity, that we believe we can beat any team. She always wanted to bring Spain to a higher level.
MENTALLY, WE KNOW IF WE PUSH A TEAM HARD FOR 40 MINUTES, THEIR LEVEL MAY GO DOWN.
The strength of Spain has always been that it's a team. Everyone has been important.
In 2019, for example, we didn't have Alba Torrens, one of the best players in our history, yet we still won the EuroBasket. If we have missed players, we've still be able to fix these things and be great. So while Marta Xargay and Anna Cruz have been amazing players for us, we move forward and do so with optimism.
It helps, which we showed at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cup in 2018, that we have depth. I was injured, Alba was injured, Anna Cruz was injured, but all the others stepped up like Cristina Ouvina and Queralt Casas. When bad things happen to the team, other players show up.
Our coach, Lucas Mondelo, knows the players that are available and then adjusts the way we have to play to be better in that championship.
There's something else about Lucas. He gives us offensive sets to play, especially in key moments of games, yet he also gives us freedom. Take Alba. You cannot put her in a cage. If you do, then you're losing something. She's unique.
We go into every game knowing that Alba, at some point, is going to break the rules and then if it doesn't help us, you might think, "Okay, Alba, that's two times in a row. Slow down. You're taking too many risks." Lucas is the best person to manage this.
As players, being in the national team has been very important for our careers. Even when I got cut ahead of a big tournament, it made me work harder so I wouldn't be excluded the next time. In 2010, it was the World Cup in the Czech Republic when I was still young, and I got cut. That really motivated to have my best season at Perfumerias Avenida, and we ended up winning the EuroLeague Women.
Every time I had a disappointment, it fueled my desire to work harder so the coaches wouldn't have any doubts about having me in the team. Of course the last seven years, Lucas gave me a lot of confidence, even if I was injured, by selecting me. He wanted me in the team to help both on and off the court. I appreciate that, but also understand that I have to keep working to keep my spot because I want to deserve it.
Off the court, I try to be the glue, to make everyone feel comfortable. On the court, I feel good coming off the bench and changing the rhythm of the game. I've done this a long time. The players coming into the game with me have the same mentality and the same skill, although as you get older, you're not as quick, maybe not physically as good, yet you have more experience and more of a stronger mentality. We have to show the young ones that no matter what, Spain always competes until the last second.
When I do stop and think about being a part of such a successful team, it gives me a rush. I'm very thankful. I know that right now we're still fighting the coronavirus pandemic but hope the situation improves so we can have fans in the stands when we stage the EuroBasket.
Silvia Dominguez put her name in bright flashing lights when leading Spain to glory at the FIBA U20 Women's European Championship 2007, earning the MVP honor. She has gone on to become one of Spain's most important and successful players, helping the team win three FIBA Women EuroBaskets, capture silver and bronze medals at the FIBA Women's Basketball World Cups in 2014 and 2018 and silver at the 2016 Olympics. Dominguez has also enjoyed a glittering career as a professional, claiming EuroLeague Women titles in 2011 (Perfumerias Avenida), 2012 (Ros Casares) and 2013 (UMMC Ekaterinburg) and a host of other crowns, and individual honors.